With the Kings of War Summer Campaign fast approaching, you might be considering what army you want to play during the campaign. So, we’re pleased to announce that Bensome from the Direct Misfire podcast is back with another of his in-depth army guides. After previously looking at Dwarfs and Ogres, today he’s back with Abyssal Dwarfs. Over to you Bensome…

Welcome once again to another Kings of War “Top units for beginners” guide where we’ll tackle one of my favourite armies: The Abyssal Dwarfs.

Differing greatly from their non-Abyssal kin, an army of Abyssal Dwarfs (AD for short) is much more than beards, bellies, brews, and broken organ guns. You’re much more likely to see just a couple of dwarfen masters spurring on an eclectic mix of monsters and slaves. In fact most AD armies I’ve seen have very few actual dwarfs!

Before I begin in earnest I must point out that there are so many effective builds available to an AD player (except for maybe a pure gun line), so please don’t be offended if I fail to discuss your particular favourite unit – they’re all my favourite too. Limited time and space is what’s keeping me back from ranting on about every unit available. If you’re after a more in-depth look, check out our podcast episode covering this very subject.

So with that in mind, here are my top three choices for the new ‘Adyssal Borf’ player:

1. Gargoyles

Every AD player should learn how to use these nimble diverters as soon as they can. The sooner the better.  Their stats might not seem all that impressive, sporting only a handful of attacks, low defence, low nerve and only available in troops, but it’s not their combat ability that makes them great; it’s their mobility.  For just 80 points we have a speed 10, flying speed bump that, if they survive a round of shooting (unlikely but possible), should be able to regenerate that damage back thanks to their in-built regen 3+.

For all you new KoW players, this unit is commonly referred to as “chaff”: throw away units designed to protect the more valuable damage dealers from being charged or fired upon. Key words being throw-away. To that effect, gargoyles are king.

Their speed 10 and fly allow them to sit behind a unit as the army moves forward and then zip out ahead to block your opponent from charging anything else BUT the gargoyles. This then gives you one turn to approach within charge distance for the next round. The gargoyles theoretically die to the opponent they are blocking, which in turn frees up the charging lane for hard hitters. Mission accomplished gargoyle.

If the opponent decided NOT to charge your flappy statues, then their Fly ability allows them to pivot and flap away to annoy something else, while still freeing up the charge lane. There have been a few times I’ve been able to get one troop of gargoyles to hold up two hordes of infantry for two turns just by sitting in front of both and charging neither!

What not to do:

  • Send them out too far in front of your army. If your army can’t keep up then your opponent can charge them without fear of retaliation or shoo them away with a couple of ranged attacks. If your opponent takes them out and you haven’t set up a charge, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t let their sacrifice be in vain.
  • Give them artefacts. Increasing their cost for minimal gain is just throwing points away.

2. Lesser Obsidian Golems

Everything that was said about the Earth Elementals in the Dwarf “top units” article can be said for the Obsidian Golems. There are a couple of notable differences though.

Still retaining the defence 6+, fearlessness and awesomeness, the Lesser Golems lose Pathfinder and Headstrong for increased Crushing Strength and Vicious. So, right off the bat their offensive power is much improved (just try not to hinder yourself). What this results in is a unit that gives pause to your enemy when they’re deciding to charge them or not. If they don’t focus fire or double charge the Golems, then they’ll have an 18 attack, Crushing Strength 2, re-rolling-1s-for-damage counter charge to worry about.

You could use a couple of hordes as a slow moving frontline or flank protection, their aim is to hold up the opponent while the rest of your army surgically removes key units. Or you could use them as pure defensive objective paperweights; find a good spot then “set and forget”. Also, any surge-shenanigans that apply to the Earth elements also work with the Golems. Just like with the dwarfs, make sure you bring an Ironcaster.

Artefacts aren’t necessary for the Golems but if you’re trying to spend the last of your points, a ranged ability like the Diadem of Dragonkind works well, Brew of Courage for even more sustainability or Pipes of Terror to further increase their ability remove units off the board.

3. Ba’su’su the Vile

My last and most difficult choice (seriously, it took me ages to settle on a choice and even now I’m still a little indecisive) … Ba’su’su the Annoying Vile (or as I like to call him, Bassy).

It was a toss-up between Bassy Baby and the Abyssal Halfbreed Champion. Bassy won out as he’s easier to use and more forgiving than the Halfbreed Champ.

Both are excellent surgical strikers who can hold their own in a fight, dish out some damage solo, get where they need to be to block units, disorder ranged units or remove war machines.
Both have regen 5+ and 5+ defence, though Bassy has a couple more attacks and higher nerve – making him less likely to run.

A key point of difference is that Bassy only inspires Gargoyles whereas the Halfbreed Champion inspires all, so keep that in mind when zipping him out front with other Gargoyles and Abyssal Halfbreeds.

What makes Bassy so good is that he is essentially a mini dragon. All the sustainability, manoeuvrability and power of a flying monster (minus breath attack), crammed into a teeny base. He can take the hits and make the plays with defence 5+, regen 5+ and a high nerve, -1 to hit from ranged attacks; so your opponent really has to work to take him out.

Watch out for his individual rule though. While he has the stats of a monster, he still doesn’t get to increase his attacks for striking a flank or rear. Flip the coin though, any unit that makes a charge against him will never double or triple their attacks either.

As he is a Living Legend, we’re unable to give him any artefacts. The Halfbreed champ on the other hand has plenty of viable artefact options. I personally like to go with the quicksilver rapier and use him to hunt down other individual characters. His Melee of 3+ gets amped up to 2+ against the squishies and his innate crushing strength 3 will remove any defence they have. Extra defence or speed are also great choices.

Honourable mentions include:

Slave Orcs and Slave Orc on Gore riders. The Slaves, when taken as troops, can fill the role of chaff with the added bonus of actually being able to deal damage. They’re slower than gargoyles, but also cheaper. Never underestimate the Slaves though – one exposed flank or rear and even a troop of Orcs can decimate your foe.

Abyssal Halfbreeds. My other go-to unit, thanks to their good speed, offensive power, Me 3+ and regen 5+. Only De 4+ so try not to get flanked and make sure there is an inspiring hero about to keep them in the fight for more than one charge. They are also excellent for claiming late turn objectives.

Dragon fire-teams. A very cheap source of flaming death. Their short range is offset by the fact that they can move and shoot without penalty. If you have some war machine slots open in your list, taking a couple of these is a good idea. They can burn away enemy chaff and reliable deal damage to those units fast enough to try and out-flank you. They ARE individual though, so don’t try to block your opponent’s charge lanes with them… they’ll die in combat and your opponent will be able to overrun into the very thing they were attempting to protect.

There you have it. My top choices for the beginning Abyssal Dwarf player. As long as you try to build a balanced list and you can’t go wrong really, so step out of your comfort zone and experiment with your list design. As always though, remember to have fun with it!

Make sure you listen to Direct Misfire for more Kings of War chatter and army guides.

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